First, please, I beg you, heed this advice: do NOT wait until you are moving to attempt to inventory your entire home!
A home inventory is absolutely essential for a move, especially if a moving company will be transporting your goods from A to B. Sure, the moving company will draft an "inventory" while the packers are boxing your stuff but, this isn't the most accurate for three reasons:
- They can get a bit hurried and write items such as "boxes of books." No really, we had that on our inventory when we moved here from Virginia. "Boxes of books"... that's great but, what if a box is lost? What did this box contain? No one knows. Not knowing what you lost means you won't likely be able to collect insurance (not to mention work on tracking new copies down).
- We had a bit of a pocketing issue last time... it's terribly difficult to keep an eye on every little item going into each box when there is more than one packer in your house. They tend to be in different rooms. So, there's nothing to stop them from packing two bottles here, pocketing one there. The process was so overwhelming, truth be told, I didn't examine the movers' inventory as thoroughly as I should have so, I didn't notice at the time that some items never made the list. By the way, who steals schnapps!?
- The movers don't know how much your stuff is worth. We're lucky enough to have "replacement value" insurance built into our relocation package but, how can we be reimbursed if we haven't researched the value? (Also, some companies require a separate inventory sheet for any and all items over a certain value. For us, last time the mark was $2000, this time it's $100!)
The inventory is also helpful when you're moving yourself. Boxes get left in U-haul trucks, friends cars, on the driveway, in a closet...
But, moving isn't the only time you need this information. What if something terrible happens? You're burglarized? Natural disaster strikes? Knowing exactly what was in your home will make the insurance claim process go much more smoothly and you'll be able to start replacing all of your goodies much faster.
If you haven't started one already, a home inventory list can seem overwhelming. The key is to take it just a little at a time. Devote an hour or two every day/weekend/month to sort though a small part of a room. For example, you could start with your shoe collection. Write down the brand, style, and approximate value for each pair in a notebook or a computer spreadsheet (I like Excel.) When you finished that, you can either move on to another part of your closet/home or be done for the day. The key is not to stress but, to get it all documented as thoroughly, accurately, and timely as possible.
Once you have everything in your home cataloged, maintenance will be easy! Set aside a time each week to add all of your new purchases to the spreadsheet. This will keep your records, and your peace of mind up-to-date.
- Don't forget to tally up the total value of your goods each year before renewing your insurance policy. You want to make sure your coverage is high enough to account for everything.
- Take photos off high-value items and items with serial numbers.
- Back-up all of the documentation regularly.
Now, I'm off to follow my own advice and tackle those kitchen cupboards!
Have a great weekend! x